Lifestyle

98 Islanders head to Mexico to build homes and faith

High school students with the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church journeyed to Mexico over spring break to build houses for the poor. This home, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, was one of seven built by the group.  - Contributed photo
High school students with the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church journeyed to Mexico over spring break to build houses for the poor. This home, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, was one of seven built by the group.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Yes. This word characterized the cadence of people’s attitudes from the moment they agreed to help make the Mexico Mission Project 2008 a success. Yes — to serve and love the people of Tijuana, Mexico. Yes — to bless seven families with a new home and new hope. Yes — to noticing where God might show up, and how we might be changed.

Sixty-six high school students and 32 adults headed down to Tijuana this year as a part of the annual Mercer Island Presbyterian Church high school mission project. Continuing the tradition that started in 1994, the group flew to San Diego, where they then drove across the border. Destination: Casa Hogar de los Niños, an orphanage, where students and leaders alike made their home on beds of sleeping bags, too-thin sleeping pads, and concrete floors. Every morning of the week the group arose bright and early, drove the bumpy, dusty roads to their respective sites, and worked as long and as hard as they could. Work on this trip does not just mean “work”: it means working with a language barrier, working with varying levels of strength and skill, working when you’re hot, working next to the person who kept you up all night with her snoring, and working with the person who took the last turkey and cheese sandwich at lunch, and you got stuck with PB&J.

There is no break. After work, one might find a bucket of chilled water waiting for him/her to be used to wash the paint from her hair or the dried sunscreen and dirt from his neck. On to dinner, then program … a skit or game to enjoy, a time of worship with music and song, and a talk from a leader. Then on to team time, when questions are asked, stories are shared, and the evening’s talk might be discussed. “I felt like he [Paul Barrett, pastor] told my story tonight. I felt like he was looking at me,” a student shared at our small group time. “Me too,” chimed in a few others, recognizing the poignancy of Paul’s words. I saw it as God moving, speaking to our souls, helping us to know we are not alone, and leading us into community with one another.

This is not the only way God was there. We felt Him in the way our host family, Thomaso and Isabel, shook our hands and gave each one of us a hug and a kiss when we turned over the keys to their new home at the end of the week. We heard Him in the voices of more than 300 students and leaders when MIPC joined with UPC and sang songs to Him in worship on Wednesday night. We saw Him in the attitudes of these high school students, the way they got along, and in the sacrifice each person made to be there. We got to know a little bit more of the sacrifice that God first made for us.

Morgan Darrah is the ROCK Ministry Coordinator for Youth at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.

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